How the Legislative Elections work

The Legislative Elections for the lower house of Parliament, the Assemblée nationale, will be held over 2 rounds on 11 and 18 June. 1 Deputé will be elected for each of France’s 577 constituencies (geographical areas) and such person will be in office for 5 years. Of those 577, no less than 11 are to elect individuals who represent French voters who live abroad (ie one Député for USA/Canada, one for Switzerland/Liechtenstein etc), but of course not in France’s overseas territories. For the first time, it is no longer possible, simultaneously, to be a Député and a Mayor/Deputy Mayor/leader of a Regional or Departmental Council.

If anyone gets 50% of the votes cast in the 1st round, that person is immediately elected provided they have also polled at least 25% of the electors on the Electoral Register.

In the past there were always quite a number of Députés elected in that first Round. However, with the French electorate perhaps split at least four ways, the number of people who win in the 1st Round is likely to be rather limited on June 11.

If no-one has achieved that 50% level, the top 2 candidates from Round 1 automatically go through to the 2nd Round. In addition, any other candidate who polled at least 12.5% of the total number of people on the Electoral Register will accede to Round 2.

If 3 candidates go through, such 2nd round Election is called a triangulaire; while 4 candidates produces a quadrangulaire. The number of triangulaires/quadrangulaires is partly determined by the number of political parties of similar mind who may have made political pacts before Round 1 in order to help each other get through Round 1.

Once the Legislative Elections are over, the President must then appoint a Prime Minister to form a government who can command a majority in the lower house, which may well not be President Macron’s just-appointed 1st PM, Philippe.

In the past, Presidents were forced to run France with governments from other political parties. To avoid this recurring, presidential terms were reduced from 7 to 5 years, and Parliamentary and Presidential election cycles synchronised. But it may happen again.

While its powers are limited, the National Assembly can bring down the Government if an absolute majority – that is, 289 Deputies – votes a motion of no confidence.

Finally, these Legislative Elections are an important means for the political parties to obtain State funding. In 2016, a total of €63 million was divided between the parties:

  • with c. €29 million paid to parties that had 1% of total votes cast in 50+ constituencies (€1.42 per vote), provided they have an equal number of women and men candidates (it’s otherwise prorata’d downwards); and
  • around €34 million paid to Parties based on their total elected Députés and Senateurs (also with gender balance required).